My favorite books published in 2015 (#libfaves15)

List Fatigue can set in as early as November 30 with all the “best”  books, movies, music lists that start rolling in. At first I compulsively check out all the book lists, and then I check out after about List 11 — because many of the lists repeat the same books.

Commonality is fantastic, and gives us a memorable snapshot of the year. The Best Books lists are also great guides for shopping for books for Christmas gifts. But the real Top 10 lists I love? The ones from librarians. Instead of doing a “best of …” type list, many of us tweeted our favorites of the year. (Big distinction between “favorite” and “best.”) Using the hashtag #libfaves15, librarians counted down their top 10. No restrictions (other than asking that people choose books published in 2015). The result? Some of the top books you’ve seen on other lists, but also a lot of shout outs for science fiction, fantasy, mystery, historical romance and contemporary romance. Books that we love — and that we can’t wait to share with readers. Continue reading

October 2015 middle-grade releases

highly unusual magicEach month the collaborative blog the Mixed-Up Files of Middle Grade Authors lists new releases. Following this feature saves me a lot of time as I look for the new, the brightest, the yet-to-be-discovered books written specifically for middle grade readers. It’s not an all-inclusive list, which would be exhaustive. And its manageability makes it a terrific resource.

Here’s an excerpt from and link to the post:

Did you happen to see recent headlines about how independent book stores aren’t just surviving, they’re actually thriving? The Week magazine summarizes findings and offers its own spin on why book stores are vital, including the fact that they “curate and recommend in a human way.” That point is crucial for middle grade readers who depend (often unknowingly) on parents, librarians, teachers, and booksellers to help them find the right book at the right time. We here at the Mixed-Up Files of Middle Grade Authors take the privilege of being able to curate and recommend quite seriously — and joyfully. And with that, we happily present you with fifteen choice middle grade books heading to book store and library shelves this month (continue reading October new releases on the Mixed-Up Files blog here).

Timeless intrigue of Greek myths

Bigger than life characters, epic battles, good versus evil, outlandish monsters and over-the-top family strife are just a few reasons Greek myths are now — just as they have been for generations — absolutely irresistible for middle grade readers. And while no kid wants to hear this now, getting a grounding in Greek tales will serve these young readers well the rest of their lives. So many references in literature (Shakespeare, for one) and pop culture have roots in these myths, and they’ll also provide fodder for kids’ own stories and interpretations.

shadowthievesIf <strong>Percy Jackson and the Olympians</strong> first reeled your reader to Poseidon, Zeus, and Athena, you may be wondering what books to grab next. Or maybe your reader likes the idea of Greek myths, but isn’t really sold on the whole Percy Jackson thing. Either way, here are some ideas for what to read next:

Timeless intrigue of Greek Myths for middle readers — From The Mixed Up Files of Middle Grade Authors  (continue to read post I wrote … ):


Top Ten Favorite Books Read in 2009

1.       These are my top ten books read in 2009. I have some riveting commentary about the selections, but first the list, in reverse author alpha order:
  1. Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates
  2. The Financial Lives of Poets by Jess Walter
  3. The Help by Kathryn Stockett
  4. When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead
  5. Stitches by David Small
  6. The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa
  7. The Family Man by Elinor Lipman
  8. If I Stay by Gayle Forman
  9. The Scarecrow by Michael Connelly
  10. Little Bee by Chris Cleave

I’m often excited about a book right after I read it, and in the past my Top Ten lists have leaned toward most recently-read loves. But this year I was diligent about putting my books on goodreads (although I was a total slacker about writing real reviews and my tags aren’t all that helpful — yet). I kept a Favorites of 2009 “book shelf” and just threw things on there when I was particularly blown away. Out of the 95 books I read, 23 made it to that shelf. Getting it down to ten was hard, and Little Bee and Stitches were often in jeopardy of being bumped (by Jonathan Tropper and Richard Russo; two worthy authors if you’re going to be edged out).  Oh, and The Oxford Project, my favorite nonfiction book of the year, didn’t make it to the final top ten. I think I’d better hit “publish post” before I monkey with this some more.